Bearcats Fall to UCF 58-55 in tough matchup

Another ugly grit and grind game for the Bearcats this season

Unfortunately, the first Bearcats basketball game I attended was a loss in which the team shot poorly and could not break the 60 point barrier. Same old, same old. Losing sucks, but when four of our five losses this season happen because we could not get out of the fifties, sometimes you just have to hit shots. Obviously, missing shots was not the only Bearcats issue last night. They lost the rebounding battle (40-33) and only went to the line six times.

Now, everyone will want to talk about the refs and all the missed calls and rightfully so. The AAC refs have been historically terrible across the entire league this season. UCONN’s Dan Hurley and Tulsa’s Frank Haith can tell you about how they were ejected for trying to shake hands and de-escalate a heated situation. Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall probably has a few words for the AAC refs as well. To make things worse, the AAC officials have not disciplined these refs when they mess up so they keep making the same mistakes.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 10: Jarron Cumberland #34 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs up court after a basket against the Houston Cougars during the second half at Fertitta Center on February 10, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

However, the refs were not why the Bearcats lost this game. If your top three scorers shoot a combined 10/36, you’re not going to win a lot of games. I would place a lot more blame on the refs if UC could actually put the ball in the basket and the difference in fouls called was greater (UC only had 3 more fouls than UCF). It was clear in the first half that the refs were letting the players play and they tightened it up in the second half.

Trevon Scott was the lone star for the Bearcats last night with 20 points on 9/15 shooting, 9 rebounds, and three assists. Scott looked comfortable from the tip. His front court mate, Nysier Brooks, had a rough game, in large part because of the refs. Brooks fouled out in 13 minutes of game time. 13 minutes?! Look, I get that Tacko Fall is hard to defend because he’s 7-and-a-half feet tall but Tacko was throwing elbows the entire game and never got called for a flagrant foul. Brooks did not contribute much on the offensive end with 2 points and 3 rebounds but he also could not get into a rhythm because foul trouble forced him to sit.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 01: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats gestures to his players during their game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center on December 01, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Bearcats defeated the Rebels 65-61. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Bearcats workhorse Jarron Cumberland will probably want to forget about last night and his 5/18 shooting performance. It’s clear that Cumberland’s cumulative workload this season is really taking its toll. He looked gassed in the middle of the first half. It reminds of me of Sean Kilpatrick’s senior year when he was the only true offensive threat on that team. That group peaked too early in the season which led to a first round exit from the NCAA Tournament. Cumberland was getting hacked and held throughout a lot of the game, but UCF also defended him pretty well. Every time Cumberland would catch a pass on the perimeter and try to drive toward the middle, his man would just sink down in the key and wait for him. Cumberland probably wasn’t as aggressive because refs are just excitedly waiting to call an offensive foul on him and he is exhausted.

All in all, it was a very tough loss but the Bearcats are still 25-5 and a very good team, only time will tell how far this team can go.

Cincinnati plays Houston at home on Sunday, March 10th, at 12:00 pm EST